A mobile phone is often one of the first items to be smashed during an incidence of domestic and family violence. Some women report needing up to five replacement phones because their phone is repeatedly damaged or hacked by a partner who has installed spyware on it – a common form of technology abuse. Some women have simply never been allowed to own one.
This May, during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, Centacare spoke with Founder and CEO of DV Safe Phone Ashton Wood about an urgent need that he says pretty much everyone can help with.
“Back in March 2020 I did a spring clean of my house in Buderim and ended up with a car load full of stuff to donate,” Mr Wood said.
“The very next day we went into (Covid) lockdown and I had nowhere to take this stuff. I rang a friend of mine, a former senior police sergeant, for advice and she asked me if I had any old mobile phones to give away. She told me about the many women who find themselves in extremely dangerous situations – that is with no mobile phone, cut off from the outside world, with no way to call emergency services or helplines for assistance.
“I did have a couple of old phones lying around that I didn’t know what to do with. It turns out that most people do.”
Since inception, DV Safe Phone has put 2,420 mobile phones into the hands of people who need them. Phones are distributed through frontline agencies and service providers, including Centacare’s domestic and family violence services in Maroochydore and Hervey Bay.
“The phones we receive from DV Safe Phone have been refurbished, tested and erased of all previous data,” Centacare Area Manager Adam Beck said.
“Each phone is provided with a charger and cable, a new SIM card and phone number, and $20 of pre-paid phone credit, all wrapped in a zip-lock bag.
“When someone accesses our service in crisis, we can give them a phone, no questions asked, no strings attached. There’s no registration process, no forms to complete and given we’re provided with a variety of phone models, there’s no training needed.
“For example, if a woman walks into our office who has just fled a violent relationship without any of their belongings – they might be living in their car or in the process of moving to emergency accommodation – we can supply them with a phone to ensure they can connect with their family, workplace, police and other service providers safely.
“For those experiencing abuse at the hands of their partner, a mobile phone can absolutely save their life.”
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing (or is at risk of experiencing) domestic and family violence, contact your local Centacare domestic and family violence service.
In an emergency, call 000.
You can also call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800 RESPECT for advice and support. This service is open 24 hours and provides confidential advice via phone or webchat.